Traveling with Marsha, Namibian Style

25 July 2013, Thursday

This blog entry is written by Marsha’s Mom.  I’m trying to help Marsha in any way I can; by doing the writing, she can work on something else for a while.

I left Minnesota on Monday and arrived in Namibia on Wednesday afternoon.  My flights to Africa included a 2 hour delay leaving JFK, but South African Airlines already had me rebooked on a later flight to Namibia when I arrived in Johannesburg.  I had made arrangements to be met at the airport by someone from the Chameleon backpackers hostel where Marsha and I were staying Wednesday and Thursday nights.  Marsha had her medical check-ups that day, so we ended up getting to the Chameleon within 15 minutes of each other.  Wow, it’s great to be back together!

The one sight we did not get to during our December visit was Victoria Falls.  I love falls, and Victoria Falls is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  Marsha and I had made plans to get me there on this trip.  I’m glad we went, but I now know how much worrying she did about getting us there and back.  I really appreciate what she went through to make this happen for me!

On Thursday morning we went to the Zambian embassy in Windhoek, to see if we could get my Zambian visa before heading to Zambia on Friday.  A very nice embassy employee made it happen even though I didn’t have the two passport photos I was supposed to have.  She copied my passport to get the photos and I had the visa in about a half hour.

We flew to the most northwestern town in Namibia on Friday, arriving about 1pm.  A very nice young woman in the airport called a taxi for us and had him take us to the Namibian border, wait while we had our passports stamped, then take us to the Zambian border.  When we left the building after going through Zambian customs, we had many Zambian taxi drivers asking if we needed a taxi.  One man said he just needed 2 more people to fill his car going to Livingstone.  Since taxis don’t leave until they are full, this seemed to be the fastest way to get going.  Marsha asked him if the price of Nambian $100 per person was OK, since she paid about that last December.  We did not have Kwacha (Zambian money) yet.  He said the amount and Namibian currency were OK and led us to the car.  It turned out that he (Patrick) was not driving, Sam was, but he was riding along.  They already had another couple in the taxi, so we ended up with 4 people in the back of a small Toyota.  Much of the 200 km is filled with potholes, so the driver has to slow down often and the drive takes about 3 hours. He stopped early in the drive at a roadside stand, to buy petrol.  They had gas in plastic cans like we keep for the lawn mower.  Using a 2 liter plastic bottle for a funnel, they put 2.5 liters of gas in and we were on our way.  There are no real gas stations until Livingstone, so the drivers in both directions bought gas at these roadside stands.  Unfortunately, he forgot he had driven 20 km earlier, so we ran out of gas about 20 km short of Livingstone, at 5:30, when it would be dark by 6:30.  The car was also overheated.  Fortunately, the 2 white ladies had full water bottles with us.  We waited by the side of the road for the engine to cool off enough to put the water in before they realized it was also out of gas.  We could have been waiting a long time for Patrick to be taken somewhere to get gas, but fortunately, a passing truck had gas in the back.  After they all realized they had a plastic oil bottle that could be used to measure the gas, Sam bought enough gas to get us to Livingstone and we were again on our way.  It was now dark and the other lady riding with us started talking about the possibility of elephants and other animals in the road.  Sam drove much slower the last 20 km and we arrived safely at the Jollyboys backpacker hostel about 7pm.  Unfortunately, Sam had NOT agreed to taking payment as N$100, and said we owed him the equivalent of 100 Kwacha each.  Marsha tried to argue, but we were tired and ready to have them go away.  After much discussion of exchange rates, we paid N$200 each (about 20 USD, cheap, really) and checked into our cute hut at the hostel.  We had dinner at the grill at the hostel rather than leaving to find something in town.  Jollyboys has hot water, so we had nice, hot showers, and went to bed.  We needed to be ready for our one day Victory Falls visit the next day.

– Karen

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